The Week My Compassion Broke

You know those blog posts that start with a problem and end with a cute little moral, a “you-can-do-it” pep talk, or at least an inspirational quote with a gorgeous panoramic picture?

I know you’re starting to feel a little warm and fuzzy at the thought, so I’m going to go ahead and snap you out of it and dump ice water on that thought.  Yeah, this isn’t that post.

This is the post where I tell you how the stomach bug attacked my six year old, while he was at a birthday party by the way, and then proceeded to take the rest of us out one by one like an invisible, icky sniper.  You know how this goes…the cleaning of things you haven’t cleaned since…well…the last stomach bug, come to think of it.  The indefinite holding of the breath hoping no one else will get sick. The way you simultaneously feel deeply sad for your pitiful child, but also think, “How could you do this to me??!!”

The sick feeling you get when you’re not actually sick but your mind thinks you are.

And then the actual being sick when you start bartering with God, asking yourself where you went wrong in life and why you never appreciated normal digestion.

So we finally got past all that in just under a week and had a deceptively blissful couple days of reprieve.  Then Monday two out of 3 kids woke up with ear pain that ended in infections for both.  (Side note: Minute clinic offices are really not big enough for two upset sick kids and a three year old that rivals the energizer bunny.)

So here I am today…and I told my husband my compassion is broken.  They broke it.  Not their fault.  No.  But sickness is like a megaphone that takes alllllll the whining and the tantrums and the baseline drama and amplifies it a gazillion times.  (That is a highly accurate statistic.)  If my sympathy is like a tube of toothpaste, we are down to that last little bit that you can only access through complicated origami folds.

My son asked to play a game today and I flat out told him that I simply didn’t want to.  Sorry.  Not happening today on broken compassion day.  And when those sweet sick little kids tried to get out of bed last night or complain about one more malady, I walked them briskly back to bed while attempting to defend my right to personal free time.

Not only is my compassion broken, between kids out of school and sheer delirium, I can barely remember what day it is.  I keep drawing confusing lines on my calendar where I put the right event in the wrong square.   My son’s birthday is today and I forgot to buy the poor kid a gift.  And based on the straggling few forks in my silverware drawer, I’d say I’m massively overdue to clean dishes.

So how do you play into all this?  Well….  I think you know exactly how I feel because I believe at least 72% of you have just gone through the same thing.  So I promise…I won’t try to cheer you up….I won’t try to pat you on the back and tell you it will get better…I’ve lost my compassion, remember?  But go ahead and share your worst sick stories with the rest of us…maybe we’ll all feel a little better after all.

 

 

(Hope in) Wearing my Disease

 

I don’t usually ask for jewelry.  My mother-in-law seems to know exactly what necklaces to buy me, and my mom lends me jewelry indefinitely forever, so I have a cute little collection going.  But it’s not something I want to spend a lot of money on.

But this Christmas, I asked my husband for a bracelet.  It’s beautiful- a perfect dose of classy with a hint of sparkle to pop.  (Fun fact: I do not shave my arms.)

But I don’t want this bracelet that I asked for.  Not really.  I should have bought a bracelet like this years ago- 7 years ago, to be exact.  But like I said…it’s not a bracelet I wanted.

The truth is, it’s really just a glorified medical ID tag.

And underneath all the pretty- the class and sparkle- is an inscription that labels me: “Carrye…type-1 diabetic”.  No, I never wanted the bracelet, because I never wanted the disease.  And if there are stages of acceptance, of grief over something, I’m not there yet.  I don’t like feeling

vulnerable.

medicine-dependent.

afraid of exercise.

isolated as a medical minority.

anxious.

like a financial liability.

left with no cure.

There are so many worse diseases, so many worse problems, and trust me I’m grateful for every last medical achievement that makes my life so that you wouldn’t know to look at me that my life is anything but normal.  In many ways, my life is thriving and so absolutely beautiful.

But I have this bracelet, see.  And without a miracle or a cure it’s one I’ll wear for life.

And yet…I can let this disease own me or maybe I can own my disease.  Maybe in wearing my disease out loud, I can choose to see the power in even this broken part of me.  This isn’t who I am, but it is shaping who I am…and as a good friend told me once, God is using this disease to strip me of even the fear that seems like a side-effect of diabetes.

Maybe there’s something being forged stronger in us through our trials than we’d ever know without them.

The storm demands my God be bigger.

I’m letting go of my pretend control.

I’m fighting to know His peace verses the world’s.

I’m weighing the fleetingness of my life.

I’m slowly feeling bolder, braver.  Baby steps.

I’m being pushed into a journey to test and know if Jesus really is enough.

So maybe this is Hope.

And wouldn’t you know.  That came with the bracelet too.  It’s not what I wanted to wear.  But maybe it’s producing in me what I wanted to be all along.

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P.S. I’m thankful to my cousin for sharing this medical I.D. bracelet site with me.  If you have a chronic condition, check out the beautiful designs at  Lauren’s Hope. If you have to wear something every day, it may as well be something you like.  

 

 

My Address to Trump

Dear President Trump,

I won’t attack all the things…there’s no point in that.  I agree with you wholeheartedly when you say we need to seek solidarity.  Little good can come when we’re divided, humanly angry, and stirring up more anger with harsh words.

But on that note- solidarity- there’s one thing I want to address from your address.  You say, “We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world, but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first.” [Emphasis Mine]

You quote Psalm 133:1…but there’s a quote you may have missed on solidarity:

Philippians 2:2-4 says, “make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Mr. President, solidarity comes not through putting our own needs first; rather it comes through humility, valuing others before ourselves.  And perhaps you’ll argue that you’re not suggesting that we put our own needs first, just the needs of our NATION first.

But I would have to respectfully disagree…Luke 10:27 says “Love your neighbor as yourself” and once you start putting limits on whom exactly is our neighbor…whew, that’s very slippery slope.

We live in a globally connected world; more than ever my neighbor is not just the person living next door to me; it is both the person here in the U.S. who is struggling in poverty AND the foreigner- the refugee- the AIDS plagued- the trafficked- the oppressed.  And once you start shrinking the circle of “who is my neighbor”, you create a precarious house of cards whose foundation appears altruistic, but in reality is based on the god of ME.

Bottom line- love and solidarity is not birthed by deciding whom to exclude- by championing nationalism at the expense of global humanity.  That line of thinking moves quickly from “support my nation” to “support my race” or “support middle class” to “support my town” to “support my family” to “support me, me, me.”

And honestly, what seems best for me is rarely best for the whole.  And what seems best for me might just be the worst thing for me in the long run.

So please know that we are watching, and we are waiting.  And while I’m not entirely sure what my role here is yet, trust me when I say that I’m praying to be ready to stand on the side of justice, whether it’s here on US soil or not.  That’s where unity waits.

Sincerely,

Carrye Burr

 

Matthew 10:25-37

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[c]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d]”

28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[e] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

(New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.)

 

Dear Anarchist Sons

Dear Anarchist Sons of Mine (age 3 and 6 respectively),

Where to start?  Your attention spans are short, so I’ll begin by saying the important: I’ll love you in and out, through and through till the day I die.  This, however, is because my love isn’t a book or a toy or a paper…that you can shred and destroy like a pack of vindictive lions.

I don’t actually love things being destroyed.  (Surprise!)  So let’s just cover a few examples of situations I don’t like, shall we?

Do you remember when we made that “fruits of the Spirit” tree for our wall?  You know…the one with fruits of “love”, “joy”, “peace”.  I suspect you remember because you stripped that tree, probably while I was in the bathroom.  And I don’t really take it personally, but I do find it more than coincidental that the fruits you unceremoniously ripped off were “joy” and “gentleness”. Could we not rip all things paper…including books and cards?  Ahem.  Moving on.

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s talk broken toys and Christmas presents.  I’m not even so surprised that you break them…but don’t have the decency in your little hearts to wait till the New Year at least?  By the way, you don’t need to turn your whoopie cushion into a “frisbee”…if you want a frisbee we can get you something made surprisingly exactly for that purpose.

Then there’s the messes and so many smells.  You know who you are.  I mean, it should be enough for you that the bathroom is perpetually vaguely scented of urine and the massive amounts of soap you use.  (One squirt, really…it’s quite effective.)  But on top of that, I’m finding gifts of partially processed foods:

…writing on the wall and table (as though we don’t buy you reams of paper):

 

…and whatever paint/glitter love child this is:

Also…I’m not sure if this is a boundary line or security measure, but in either case there’s a more effective and less gluey method here…I’m 98% positive.

 

 

 

 

 

Then there’s a few simple…let’s call them “etiquette” matters.  For one, your diaper isn’t an appropriate holster for your toy gun.

Two, thought I appreciate your budding artistic skills, please save your anatomically awkward “naked sunburnt man” pictures for home and not for your teacher at school. Please. For the love.

Third: Sweet boy, I know that you are just showing me the two fingers that are particularly messy, but the world simply won’t understand.  Let’s work on getting non-middle fingers messy next time.

Finally, I love your building and creativity.  You guys amaze me with those brains.  But you and I both know that behind those brilliant designs and charming smiles are two boys with no intentions of cleaning up anything.  Except for those random moments when you do clean and I’m tempted to take you to the ER for brain scans.

So…I hope this letter has been informative and convincing.  Next time remind me to talk to you about 101 ways to NOT torture your sister.

With Greatest Love,

You Worn-out Mom

 

 

 

 

Wait. Remain. Rest.

Why has it taken me so long to post in the new year?  I could blame it on all the transition around me, a post for another time, but the truth is I’ve simply been a bit stuck.  Kind of in a funk.  2016 felt like such a big year for me, finally publishing my first book, being asked to speak on multiple occasions, and attending my first writer’s conference.  Then 2017 rolled around, a blank canvas…and perhaps for the first time in my life I saw that empty calendar as a threat instead of a challenge.

Instead of my imagination soaring through endless possibilities I looked at my baby steps of “success” last year and wondered, “What if that was it?  What if that was my season of living bold, my grand hurrah, and now God is saying, ‘Hey, Kid, really great effort back there.  That was your season.  So, yeeeaaah….I guess we’ll be in touch…(*awkward cough*)’ ” 

I’m hearing and I’m reading a great blog here and an inspiring message there about going and doing what God wants and having spiritual goals and it all sounds so wonderful…but I’m wrestling.  I’m not seeing the plan; I want to “go” but I feel a bit reckless without a map.  I’m not so much afraid that I’m bringing my baggage from 2016 with me into the future, I’m afraid my best self is stuck back there.  And I can yell pretty loud, but I’m just not sure I can get that me to follow me alllll the way to now.

And suddenly I’m keenly aware of everyone else around me who seems to be running wild and free with their dreams, like those pictures of jubilant youth scampering with abandon through open fields of wheat or daisies or…OK I’m not great with plant names I’ll just stop before I embarrass myself.

 

 

 

 

 

Do you ever feel that way?  Do you ever have that suspicion that you’re missing out on something vague and distant that you don’t even know how to get to?  Whether it’s weight loss or financial planning or a dream job or a more organized house…someone else has figured it out, but you’re not sure how to?

So where do you put your foot first?  (Out of bed helps, anyway.)

And I feel like God is whispering into my stubbornness… “Come back to me…rest…just enjoy being with me, your first love.  If you find your full satisfaction in ME then you’ll never have a reason to be dissatisfied.  No circumstance or success or failure can define your significance because you are simply Mine. Be strong, and take heart, and wait on me.  Just where do you think you’re running on your little hamster wheel?  Remain in me, because outside of me you’ll only find striving with empty results, but even the little you do in me will bear fruit.  I’m not finished with you yet…and whatever plans I have for you I will continue to accomplish. Do you trust me enough to stay close and obey?”

Wait. Remain. Rest.  Although they’re not my favorite, my Christmas tree reminded me why I desperately need those words.  See, my tree this year just wasn’t very full at the bottom.  Lots of gaps. Awkward and off-putting.  So I thought I’d just shove some of the extra branches we’d cut off into the tree stand to fill out the base.  My husband suggested we twist tie them on to the other branches, which worked wonderfully…and I basked in my DIY tree-hack bliss.  Until I noticed a few weeks later how my lower branches were looking a bit sparser than the others. Hm…

My hacked branches were no longer attached to the tree, no longer getting any water from the trunk.  They were dying quickly and shedding needles at an upsetting rate.  And yet this is the picture of what happens to me when I try to hop off the Vine and do my own thing, seek my own dream or glory apart from Him.  When I become more focused on how significant my life and dreams appear than on the One who alone breathes life and significance into me…I fall apart.

But if I Rest. Wait. Remain.  They don’t sound like the most productive words for the new year, but if everything we do, every dream we pursue, every passion we act boldly on flows out of those words…then watch out because the Kingdom is advancing.  I believe God is not done with us yet!

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Psalm 27:14: Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

John 15:4 NIV  Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”

Isaiah 30:15 “This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says:

“’In repentance and rest is your salvation,
    in quietness and trust is your strength,
    but you would have none of it.'”

Philippians 1:6 “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (Reality Redo)

‘Twas the night before Christmas, And all through the house,

Of course there was “stirring”, but it wasn’t the mouse,

(On a side note, we think there’s a mouse in the basement,

Because of the droppings in obvious placement).

The children won’t “nestle”, they don’t know that word,

They’re poking and squabbling like two angry birds,

The sir watching football and I with my wine glass,

Had just settled down to wrap gifts and relax…

When up in my head there arose such a clatter,

Of failed mother moments and Christmas disaster:

Like the time that my son squirted windex of blue,

On the floor and his brother and then sister too.

The moon shining bright on the trees bare and brown,

Remind me of Christmas tree needles knocked down,

And that sad small fir tree that I bought as a gift,

That promptly flopped over, it’s branches won’t lift.

The sound from the screen brought my mind to the games,

Where the players from each of the teams would be named,

Now Bengals!  Now Texans! Then Broncos and Chiefs

Would be playing for all of our late Christmas feasts.

For a moment I breathed an unusual calm,

But then dash away, dash away, dash away all!

For then in a twinkling I heard on the “roof”,

The prancing and pawing of each little “hoof”.

Before I could act, as my head turned around,

Down the stairs came the kids with their least quiet sounds,

All dressed cute in their pjs, from heads to their feet,

They needed to pee or more drink or more heat.

They didn’t find Momma kissing “Santa Clause”,

Instead with arms crossed I laid down the house laws,

Their droll little mouths swiftly turned to a pout,

With no more excuses they turned and went out,

And I wondered if Santa, with his round little belly,

Could make my kids eat more than pb and jelly?

If perhaps he’d leave Rudolph with the kids just to play,

So they’d sleep from exhaustion at the end of the day.

But my husband he winked and then nodded his head,

At the sounds of the giggling up in their beds.

He spoke not a word, but I realized with joy,

That despite all the chaos, my girl and my boys

Are a gift, yes a blessing, an endless new wonder,

To hold and to love both in growing and blunder,

Then, snap! Went the football, the ref blew a whistle,

And we sat there in awe, our mirth now official.

And so I exclaim as we savor this night,

“Merry Christmas to all, and to all…better sleep in the future.”

 

 

10 Useless Fantasy Football Tips

This year I made my Fantasy Football debut in our church league.  My husband is a football aficionado junky fanatic (yes I’ll leave that one) who knows more players and stats than I know things about coffee.  So I thought this year, instead of being annoyed at him checking FF stats, I’d join up myself and maybe bond over football.  Now that I’m officially knocked out of the champion game, I just thought I’d share my useless rookie advice with all of you.

  1. Before you begin your draft, read lots of articles geared for Rookie Fantasy players, including expert tips on who to draft first.  Do you need to know what the terms “PPR”, “waivers”, and “Tom Brady” mean?  No.  But you should at least be able to use them in complete sentences.  (Note: All your research will dangerously inflate your confidence, but will only help you in approximately 1.3 of your draft rounds.)
  2. Ask your husband alllllllll the questions.  You’ll need to be redundant because he will tell you things that you should have listened to the first time.  (Don’t read that last part too closely.)
  3. When you go to a live draft party, make sure you bring a reliable mobile device.  Apparently, when it’s “your turn” to choose a player, the draft doesn’t pause just because you got kicked offline.  However, you may auto-draft a half-way decent defense this way….which will probably save you from some humiliating draft pick (like a third kicker or something).
  4.   Always play Aaron Rodgers.  Always play Aaron Rodgers except when he’s on a BYE.  Still, your backup QB will score more points than him at least once and you’ll want to drive to Green Bay to shame him.  I don’t recommend this. 
  5. Learn how to spell Aaron Rodgers.  (Don’t be fooled…there’s a “d” in there.)  Learn how to pronounce Bilal Powell.  Familiarize yourself with nicknames of players like J.J. Watt.  This way you just seem mildly incompetent.
  6. Be ridiculously on top of this fantasy football thing for the first few weeks.  Then, when you get discouraged because of an inevitable loss, stop trying for a couple weeks.  Hope that your husband is kind enough to be checking on your team periodically to switch our your BYE players during your emotional slump.
  7. Marvel that your team is doing marginally better than you hoped, and renew your enthusiasm.  YAY FANTASY FOOTBALL!!  BEST HOBBY EVER!!! (stuff like that.)
  8. Start using fantasy football language in your everyday conversations: “Can’t believe my RB scored over 25 points this week!”  “My backup QB got a passing yard bonus.”   “Hey look! A football!”  Things like that.
  9. When/If you make the playoffs, act completely natural.  Blend right in.  Every morning of the playoff weeks, look at yourself in the mirror and say: “Well hello there, Fantasy Football Genius!” Pretending to put “eye black” on and making intimidating faces is optional.  (Looking up the phrase “eye black” before blogging about it is not optional.)
  10. You’ll probably tank before the championship game, so keep a running list of excuses in your back pocket as to why this happened, so as to divert from the obvious issue of your massive ineptitude.  (Ideas: Blame the loss on your opponent’s unusually high defensive points, on your inexplicably high percentage of player injuries, and if nothing else, remind everyone of the injustice of your auto-draft from day 1.

If you follow these simple rules, you’ll end up 7-6-0 losing in the last round before the championship game with a stupid score that looks like this.  (I’m blaming Aaron. And also J.J. Watt for the excuse of needing “surgery”.)

 

If You’re Broken Too…

I won’t keep you…it’s late but for most of us our thoughts have a short shelf life, so I’m getting it out now while its fresh.

I’m not always OK.  Here on my blog I share some of my vulnerable self.  But even here, I manage my vulnerable.  I want you to know I’m real, that I’m screwed up, but at the same time I don’t want you to think any less of me.  Right?  Some amount of mess is relate-able…endearing even.  But aren’t there things that all of us have done that would make someone else’s mouth drop just a little bit?  Yeah.  I don’t like handing those details out like candy.

Maybe I manage for my own sake too.  I grew up trying so hard to never make a mistake, and that trying followed me right into adulthood.  I tell myself “nobody’s perfect” and that I so fall short of my idea of glory, let alone God’s.  But then those moments of complete and utter brokenness in my life take me by surprise almost.  How could I screw up?

I was trying so hard.  I was trying so hard not to disappoint him, her, them.  I was trying so hard to be a good mom.  I was trying so hard not to be late, not to spend too much, not to say the wrong thing.  I intended so well, but didn’t follow through.  But I was trying so hard, and this guilt just follows me around no matter what…sometimes because I think I messed up…but worse are the times I know for a fact I face planted.  Dropped the ball.  Intentionally cut someone down.  Yelled so loud.  Absolutely failed.

Why am I just. so. human?

Yes, I’m still being vague.  Because the truth is, a blog can inspire but we need blood and flesh relationships for vulnerability, not a screen.  Odds are, if you’ve allowed me to see you unravel, I know you’re a safe place to unravel myself.  And if you’ve loved me, frayed ends and all…I know there’s hope in the mess somewhere. 20160813_112045-copy

And love is what I…we…so desperately need.20160817_123706

At the end of the day, the falling and the mess and the guilt and the pain…it’s covered.  Love has covered a multitude of sin, and the God who loves me chose me at the worst of my broken.  When it looked like I might never become anything more than shattered glass on the floor.  And maybe He doesn’t actually expect me to become perfect, but to become surrendered to that love.  Maybe those unraveling moments are where I’m meant to experience the depths of God’s love..because I’m aware of my deepest failing. need. The vast chasm that His love spans to reach me.

Perhaps at once the most beautiful and terrifying thing is letting go of my belief that I CAN be good enough and letting myself be loved anyway.

And letting others be loved that way too.

Don’t look around at the sea of people in your church or your school or your workplace or your homeschool co-op or your playdate group and think that you’re the unraveliest.  You’re not alone, and unless we tell each other from time to time how broken we are, we’ll walk a guilty isolated road.  Be vulnerable with someone…embrace being human…and may you know somehow that you are simply loved anyway.

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Warning: High Maintenance Areas

I’m not high maintenance.  Pff.  Absolutely not.  Yes, I’ve been buying more clothes from for-real stores and from fair trade/wages organizations like Imagine Goods and Amani Ya Juu20161110_212757

but I’m still a thrift shop girl at heart.  My long hair means I don’t have a “salon” so much as some friends with haircutting abilities that I occasionally pay to keep me within the realm of acceptable split-ends.  I don’t require expensive jewelry; I admire fancy nails, but I can’t seem to maintain them myself; it doesn’t cripple me to have an imperfect house.

So I’m not high maintenance. Nope.  Not a smidge.  Um.  Except for when I am.

This holiday season I’ve been mulling over the idea of “joy”, mostly because I’m supposed to teach on joy this month.  Drat.  It’s more fun teaching something than learning it myself.

My joy seems to be wrapped up in my expectations.  I can sit here and look at all the other people with their “high-maintenance” whatevers who seem to require more of this or more of that than I need to be happy.  Or their personality is wired so that they really can’t function without a fully cleaned house…or they find an honest-to-goodness happiness in a really great manicure and monthly hair-styling.  And it’s easy for me to think that those things are a wee bit unnecessary- definitely not something to set your joy on.

Yet I set my joy on some high-maintenance expectations of my own.

Let’s start with coffee.  A friend recently told me she only buys coffee out a couple times a year.  Excuse me?  In a YEAR?  That might cover your birthday and anniversary, but what about Valentine’s Day and Groundhog Day?  What about the Starbucks monthly double-stars day?  What about days when the kids are going crazy or you feel hormonal?  What about the “I-happen-to-be-driving-within-10-miles-of-my-favorite-coffee-place” days?  What about RAINY days for heaven’s sake??!!

And then let’s get down to the actual coffee.  I, thrift shopper that I am, have somehow convinced myself that it’s OK to drop 5 dollars a pop on coffee. I’m quite a smooth talker to myself.

” Why, yes self, you DO have diabetes…you DO have a two year old who punched you in the face today…you DO feel a bit tired and YES if you miss this two minute window to buy coffee you’ll probably go into a catatonic state of lethargy from which there’s no return.  What kind of mother would you be if you DIDN’T buy coffee?”

And my joy is suddenly based on the latte-ness of the day, or whether the store has my favorite sugar free syrups, or how often I’m able to escape in java bliss.

Then Christmas tree shopping revealed more high maintenance areas.  We got a wonderful tree but we didn’t get our usual wagon ride and hot chocolate amenities.  A bit of joy deflated.  And even though I “let” my kids pick out a tree, I’m a master of getting them to ultimately pick one I approve of.  Because Christmas just might fall apart (for me) if I let the kids pick out the tree.

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So my gracious husband dragged in our fresh-over-priced tree, patiently stood it up and screwed it into the stand only for me to look at it with an overwhelming sense of discontent. (loss of joy).  The trunk was too tall…the lowest branches were dismally far away from the floor.  Dismally.  Yes I said it. I awkwardly asked if he could re-do it.  If he could possibly take the whole thing down, cut a bit of trunk here, a branch or two there.  Only because my joy hinged on it.

And then I almost started crying, because once he had trimmed the darn thing, the tree was closer to the ground but the branches he was forced to cut off left gaps all around the base of the tree.  Not one sad little gap that you can turn towards the wall so no one sees it.  Gaps everywhere!  And I panicked because we had already bought this tree and there was no going back and now Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas unless I could JAM some extra tree branches into the tree stand to fill out the bottom.  Seriously, I sat there like a mad-woman trying to wedge tree branches until my husband gently asked if I’d like him to tie the branch onto the tree instead.  Yes…we twist tied branches onto my tree this year like the equivalent of tree hair transplant.

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So our tree is complete now and it fills me with joy and it should.  That’s OK.  But it’s also symbolic this year of my expectations for joy.  Maybe I do have some areas of high maintenance that can threaten to steal my joy if I’m not careful, if I don’t own them and tame them through a little letting go.  Maybe we all have those places in our lives…maybe the things or people that give us the greatest joy, when lost or broken, are also the places where we have the potential to lose the greatest joy.

Is there a deeper anchor for my joy than my own high-maintenance places?  Is there a well of joy that runs deeper than my broken expectations?  Is there a source of joy that outlasts my temporary fixes?

I’m finding that a joy bigger than my circumstances must come from outside of myself.  For me, Jesus is more and more becoming that source of joy for me.  He’s becoming more than just a plastic figure or a pat answer and is soaking into the very fiber of who I am.  I’m not fully there yet…but my soul reminds me whenever I’m disappointed in this life that there’s a far deeper joy in the One I can’t see than in the things that I can.

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Where are you tempted to lose joy this year?  How do you refocus yourself when joy seems far away?

 

But Let Me Be Moved

God,

In the face of election results that grate on my soul, let me be moved.

In the footsteps of those fearless ones who dared to pick up the crushing burden of freedom for all, let me be moved.

In the midst of terror, injustice, and darkness, let me be moved.

The way is unknown, the task is immense, the voice of dissension is thundering and the lies are pervasive- but away with excuse, away with our hate, and away with the dark…and LET ME BE MOVED.

You are a Father to the fatherless, a Defender of the widow and the weak; I didn’t invent justice, it has always been YOUR cause first, so Let me be moved.

You are a Breaker of chains, a Freer of captives, a Champion of love, so let me be moved.

Yet don’t let me move without you.  Don’t let me run in human wisdom that perverts your wisdom, that shrinks your plan to a program or mere politics.

My anger will not bring about your righteousness, so give me righteous anger.

You say “have no fear” for You are with me- so change my panic to urgency for your will to be done.

My knowledge and life will pass like grass, so if I speak give me YOUR words which stand forever.

Your eyes are already open to injustice and brokenness, so please open MINE to see not only what’s wrong but also your solution.

I’m weak, but You’re stronger; I’m small, but You’re greater; I’m selfish, but You. are. LOVE.

So let me be moved to action, let me be moved to passion, let me be moved to unity…

But let me be moved…by You.

Photo Credit: Sam Burr